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Last reviewed on 13 October 2020
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Learn about governors' duty to provide education for children with SEND. We run through the rules set out in the Governance handbook, Children and Families Act 2014, SEND Code of Practice and SEND Regulations 2014.

Governors' responsibilities

All governing boards have legal duties under the Children and Families Act 2014 in relation to pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

In practice, the governing board can delegate these functions to a committee, an individual governor or the headteacher. However, the responsibility to make sure that the functions are carried out remains with the governing board itself.

Governing boards must:

  • Co-operate with the local authority in reviewing the provision that is available locally and developing the local offer
  • Use their best endeavours to make sure that a child with SEND gets the support they need – this means doing everything they can to meet children and young people’s SEND
  • Ensure that children and young people with SEND engage in the activities of the school alongside pupils who do not have SEND
  • Inform parents when they are making special educational provision for a child
  • Ensure that arrangements are in place in schools to support pupils at school with medical conditions
  • Have a clear approach to identifying and responding to SEND
  • Record accurately and keep up to date the provision made for pupils with SEND
  • Publish information on their websites about the implementation of the board’s policy for pupils with SEND (the school SEN information report)
  • Publish information about the arrangements for the admission of pupils with disabilities, the steps taken to prevent them being treated less favourably than others, the facilities provided to assist access, and their accessibility plans
  • Ensure that there is a qualified teacher designated as special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO) for the school
  • Determine their approach to using their resources to support the progress of pupils with SEND 

These requirements are set out in the Governance handbook (see pages 84-85).

Appoint a link governor for SEND

There should be an individual on the board or a committee with specific oversight for the school's arrangements for SEND (see the Governance handbook, page 70).

Read about this role in more detail, and download our template role description.  

Report on SEND provision

Governing bodies of maintained schools, maintained nursery schools and academies must publish information about their SEN provision. This is required under the SEND Regulations 2014

Information on SEND provision should be:

  • Easily accessible to parents and young people
  • Reviewed annually

This is set out in paragraphs 6.79 and 6.81 of the SEND Code of Practice

Read more about the requirements for the SEN information report.

Make sure there's an accessibility plan

As governors, you need to make sure your school meets the requirement to create and implement an 'accessibility plan' for pupils with disabilities. This is required by the Equality Act 2010. The plan must aim to:

  • Increase how much pupils with disabilities can participate in the curriculum
  • Improve the physical environment of the school, so pupils with disabilities can take better advantages of the education, benefits, facilities and services the school provides
  • Improve the availability of accessible information to pupils with disabilities

See more information on what an accessibility plan should contain.

Also, your school needs to:

  • Consider how it will provide adequate resources to implement the plan
  • Regularly review the plan

You should hold the senior leadership team to account for the implementation of the plan. 

Make sure a SENCO is appointed 

If you're on the governing board of a mainstream schools, you must make sure that a member of staff is appointed as the special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO).

The key rules are:

  • The SENCO must be a qualified teacher working at the school
  • A newly appointed SENCO who has not previously been the SENCO at that or any other relevant school for a total period of more than twelve months must achieve the National Award in SEN Co-ordination within three years of appointment.

Your board should:

  • Make sure that the SENCO’s key responsibilities are outlined
  • Monitor how effectively they are carried out - do this using our questions to ask about SEND

This is set out in paragraph 6.84 on page 108 of the SEND Code of Practice, linked to above. 

Although special schools are not required to have a designated SENCO, it's still a good idea for them to have a qualified teacher working in a role with responsibility for overseeing and co-ordinating the provision of SEN. Nasen recommended this to us. 

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